December 6, 2012

What Every Successful Resume Should Have

Recipe for SuccessThe end of the year is fast approaching, and with it comes a hiring boom. Many companies will be in search of seasonal and temporary hires to help offset the consumer holiday demands. Whether you’re looking for a full-time position in hopes of it turning into a permanent job or just seeking a way to make some extra holiday cash, you’re going to need to focus on one important thing: your resume.

Keeping your resume up to date is extremely important because, well, life is unpredictable. You never know just when you may need to apply for a new (or another) job. And just like keywords and search engine optimization (SEO) are crucial to the success of a business (especially an online company), so are certain words when it comes to attracting employers. Whether your resume is hard copy, on a personal website or in your LinkedIn profile (it doesn’t hurt to have all three), there are specific keywords you should include to demonstrate key characteristics and skills that will catch the attention recruiters.


When attempting to convey your leadership skills, use words like guided, led, organized, inspired, developed, revitalized, directed and/or managed. These are powerful words that not only show that you do have the ability to lead, but they also help the employer gain a better sense of your leadership skills. What event or program did you organize? Who and how many did you inspire? What did you develop and where? These words should always be used when qualifying a particular skill, like that time you launched an initiative to reduce the amount of energy your office consumed, thereby reducing your corporate carbon footprint. Or when you implemented a new internship program that resulted in the company not only giving back to the community through education, but creating a new way to source local talent. These types of keywords help further describe the actions you took as a leader and, possibly, the impact you made.

Cost Cutting

Name a company not looking to save money? Almost impossible, right? So, when updating your resume, look for keywords that explain the ways you assisted a company with cost-reductions. Reduced, solidified, compressed, aggregated: all of these words work well to describe how you helped a company save money.

Team Settings

If you know the position you’re applying for requires working with others, play up the words that show you’re a team player. Collaborated, cooperated, interacted, joined—use any and all words that reflect your skills in a team/group environment.

Human Resources

For positions in HR: retention, retention, retention. Employee turnover is a costly area. Employers want to see that the people in its HR department know how to not only attract talent, but keep it. Retention is an excellent keyword that can also transition over into a sales environment where it is imperative that you retain clients in order to secure long-term business transactions.


Problem solving words such as reduced, identified, solved, eliminated, corrected, evaluated, analyzed, strengthened, reorganized, tackled and simplified are all great ways to show potential employers you have the ability to handle issues. Every company desires an employee who knows how to effectively make a difference.

Many of today’s businesses are moving toward a model of change, which involves key players who have the ability to motivate the masses and get things done. Change makers help to improve the productivity of the business and boost morale in the company and are the cornerstones to success.


To highlight your achievements, you can use strong keywords like negotiated, delivered, obtained, produced, performed, conducted, improved, implemented, accomplished and surpassed, along with hard data and quantified metrics. What these words tell a person is that you have the ability to set goals and subsequently take the necessary steps in order to obtain those goals.

Keywords will change from  industry-to-industry and position-to-position, but the important thing is to know which ones to use and when. Employers should be able to find strong keywords throughout your resume in order to yield the best possible results and give you the greatest chances at exposure.

Read more in Resume Writing

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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